On today's BradCast, we kick off our special coverage of the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee's public hearings on Donald Trump's unprecedented attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election via not only the deadly January 6, 2021 insurrection he incited, but via a well-coordinated (by Trump standards) 7-point scheme. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
During Thursday night's gripping and, at times, emotional first prime time hearing, the Committee began to lay out their case, placing the disgraced former President firmly at the center of "an attempted coup". It was a plot to prevent the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in our nation's history. The panel detailed what we will learn over a series of at least five more hearings over the next two weeks.
Last night, they employed disturbing, never before seen footage of the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, and snippets of stunning video-taped testimony from a number of Trump's top officials and his own family members.
The pieces of evidence laid out on Thursday already make clear that Trump was told time and again, for weeks before the assault, that there was no evidence to support his claim that he lost the election due to fraud. His own Attorney General Bill Barr told him on several occasions that the claim was "bullshit." His own daughter, Ivanka Trump agreed with Barr. Both were seen testifying to that end on video last night.
Meanwhile, after Trump incited his supporters --- including extremist groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers --- to attack the Capitol and threaten the life of Vice President Mike Pence, Trump did nothing to stop them for hours. His top general, Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified that Pence contacted the military several times on January 6 to put down the insurrection, while the former President took no action at all. His Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, however, did contact Milley in an attempt to "kill the narrative that the Vice President was making all the decisions" and to "establish the narrative that the President is still in charge."
The damning evidence was presented before two live witnesses took the stand. One was documentary filmmaker Nick Quested, who was embedded with the Proud Boys on the night before the insurrection and the day of, capturing both their chilling assault on January 6 and a secret meeting between the heads of both the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers on the night before. U.S. Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards, reportedly the first of more than 100 law enforcement officials to be critically injured that day, testified how she had been knocked unconscious by the Trump supporters, before awaking to continue the fight among "carnage" and "chaos" while slipping on the blood of her fellow law enforcement officers and being attacked with pepper spray from the violent mob.
There was much more presented by Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY), suggesting several of Trump's top allies in Congress sought pardons after January 6, and that, as his supporters were chanting "Hang Mike Pence!", Trump was following along via television in the Oval Office; became irate at aides urging him to take action to quell the violence; and even declared, "maybe our supporters have the right idea, Mike Pence deserves it."
We're joined today for analysis by Salon's award-winning opinion journalist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON and former U.S. Army Captain and now-retired attorney KEITH BARBER (who was also a lifelong Republican, until Trump.) He had long been a contributor at Daily Kos on legal and constitutional matters, and now writes at Medium.
Among the many questions discussed today...
- What did they learn Thursday night that they hadn't known previously?
- Who are these hearings meant to reach?
- Why was Fox "News" the only major broadcast or cable news network too terrified to allow their viewers to watch the proceedings?
- Why is the Committee so focused on the violent, seditious conspiracy carried out by the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, and is there evidence they conspired directly with the Trump Administration?
- What are the seven points in Trump's failed plot to steal the election that the Committee will detail in the days ahead?
- How do the claims by Trump supporters that they support law enforcement square with the MAGA mob's brutal assault of Capitol Police?
- What do both of our guests hope to see from the hearings in the days ahead?
- And will the hearings continue to grab the attention of the American people?
Both Parton and Barber offer insight and analysis for us today on all of the above and much more!...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)